Friday, February 23, 2007

No. 23: Who's the Greatest?
(Besides the Obvious)

See post below for today's Quickie.

The movie "The Number 23" came out today. As with almost every Jim Carrey movie that isn't a comedy (except "Eternal Sunshine"), you could see it coming: Panned.

But it lends itself to an interesting discussion/debate: After Michael Jordan, who is the greatest No. 23 of all time?

Let's look at it two ways: Greatest No. 23 (besides MJ) in ANY sport, and greatest No. 23 in each of the major sports. (For the NBA, obviously, the greatest No. 23 after Jordan.)

My picks:
NBA: LeBron
MLB: Ryne Sandberg
NFL: Uh, Devin Hester?
NHL: Uh, Chris Drury?
College FB or BB: Hmm...

(Interesting trivia: No team in the NFL has ever retired No. 23.)

Have at it, and bonus points for inspired or non-obvious choices.

(Oscar picks coming soon!)

-- D.S.


Natsfan74 said...

As soon as you said greatest 23 of all time, my immediate thought was Ryne Sandberg - the original 23 in Chicago. But then you went and took him from me.

Danielle said...

FYI. There is a book on this topic called "By the Numbers." It lists the greatest at every number 0-99, in sports history. Got it for my dad for christmas and it's great.

Unsilent Majority said...

Ah 23, the favorite number the 20th Century's two most evil people.

MJ and Hitler

BLT said...

Currently in Hockey I think that;
Colorado: Milan Hejduk
Detroit: Mathieu Schneider

Could be considered better #23s than Drury.

I wish that Ray Emery would change his number so I could vote for him.


Brian in Oxford said...

I used to piss off a friend of mine in college (c. 1990) and say that Don Mattingly was the best 23 in sports at the time. I think he was as good as Ryno, although as a first baseman, he'd have had to be better to get in the HoF.

Natsfan74 said...

Mattingly had a restaurant in Evansville, IN, called Mattingly's 23. The food was crappy, the prices were too high, but if you went in on a week-end in the winter, you might see him.

But Ryno was better than Mattingly. DM was a great player who should be in the Hall. But Ryno, much like Cal, changed the way people thought about 2B (except Joe Morgan beat Ryno to it and the trend didn't stick). Ryno played gold glove caliber 2B every year, while hitting for average and power and speed on the bases.

Unsilent Majority said...

these two 23's make a cute couple

BobbyStompy said...

MLB - Jermaine Dye, baby! World series MVP!

EPorvaznik said...

I forgot to say my prayer of humility this morning, so me, who wore 23 in any sport played (baseball, soccer, basketball and football) from 1981-1998 (pre-knowledge of MJ), at which point switched to 37 as an homage to "Spaceman" Lee (and Nuke LaLoosh).

Mega said...

Who is the best current #23 player in the MLB right now?

The only guy I can think of off the top of my head is Jermaine Dye. There are surely more out there that I'm too lazy to look up.

CMFost said...

Retired #23's
* Ryne Sandberg - Cubs
* Don Mattingly - Yankees
* Willie Horton - Tigers

* Bob Nystrom - New York Islanders, April 1, 1995

* Lou Hudson, Atlanta Hawks
* Frank Ramsey, Boston Celtics
* Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
* Calvin Murphy, Houston Rockets
* Michael Jordan, Miami Heat
* John Williamson, New Jersey Nets


BLUE said...

why did the heat retire Jordan's number?

futurelegendvinceyoung said...

I remember when Jordan retired Dennis Miller said they should just call the number "Jordan" so when counting you would go 21, 22, Jordan, 24. That was one of the few things that Miller said that made me crack up.

Brian in Oxford said...

Does the NBA allow players to have numbers where the sum of the digits is greater than 10? I know Rodman had 73 and 91, but in theory, refs could hold up all 10 fingers, and spread them apart to act as a space between place values. Even Quinn Buckner wore 28 backing up Dennis Johnson.

It just seems like you never see a 39 or 58 in the NBA.

And I want someone to wear a 3-digit number. Or a decimal. Fractions would look stupid, no?

Mikepcfl said...

As 23 is the number you give to your 'go-to' guy in basketball, so 'Dallas' is the 'go-to' name when talking about strippers. Have you ever seen a stripper named 'Dallas' that wasnt the hottest girl in the place?

alexanbo said...

David Beckham is 23 for Real

CMFost said...

Ben blame wiki not me, I took that info straight from there site.

Brian in Oxford said...

I remember Ivan Calderon lumbering around right field one year for the Red Sox as 23.

But that number belong to Dennis Boyd, who shoulda come in to relieve Bruce Hurst in a certain game 7, not Al Nipper!

Pete said...

Ryno was the best- I got to see his HOF induction and it was a great day. It was also another reminder on how much Joe Morgan sucks (he alledgely boycotted because he didn't think 23 deserved to be in the Hall).

professorperkins said...

Brian, I can think of examples of guys wearing weird numbers in the NBA, but usually they're just temporary. Webber's wearing 84 right now (the year he graduated from college? haha), and Antoine Walker wore 88 when he came back to the Celtics since Al Jefferson had 8 then.

John Paul Manahan said...

pat riley wanted to start a trend ala jackie robinson to retire the 23 by all nba teams.

DougOLis said...

I second alexanbo; best #23 football has to be becks

Precourt said...

Weird I didn't get to read Shanoff until later this afternoon (usually I read him as soon as I wake up) and I'm reading the 23 post and I get to the end and there is 23 comments. SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOKY? No you're right I guess not.

Every team in every sport should retire Michael Jordans number. No one in the history of sports has ever been more closely associated with his number than Jordan and was the greatest professional athlete in history.

rukrusher said...


Mets #23

A true modern Mets mystery is figuring what got into Bernard Gilkey in 1996 -- or, even trickier, what got out of him in 1997 and '98. Bernard turned in one of the great all-time performances by a Met in '96 (.317-30 and team records of 117 RBI and 44 doubles) then fell flat on his face when it was apparent that only half that output probably meant playoff appearances in '97 and '98. Boo.

Original Met Joe Christopher (1962-65) turned in a .300-16-76 performance in 1964; Doug Flynn (1977-81, right) was a deserving Gold-Glove winner at second base in 1980 but never hit much. The Mets were optimistic that Brian Giles (1982-83) would also be a Gold-Glover at second base, but a lack of a bat scorched his career as well.

Others: Bill Murphy (1966); Bob Heise (1967-68); Leroy Stanton (1970-71); Dave Schneck (1972-73); Teddy Martinez (1974, he switched from 17 under pressure from Felix Millan and because 23 was worn by his hero, Tito Fuentes. The move forced Schneck to take 16, which was Millan's 1973 number); Jesus Alou (1976); Leon Brown (1976); Chris Donnels (1991-92); Tim Bogar (1993-95); and Jermaine Allensworth (1998). Middle reliever Pat Mahomes (1999-2000, above) was one of those pleasant surprises every playoff team has. His 8-0 record in '99 included no small wins. Alas, he pulled a Gilkey in 2000. Brian Rose was a last-minute opening day roster addition in 2001, and Matt Lawton (2001) took it over at the trade deadline. Waiver pick-up McKay Christensen joined the club early in 2002, and Esix Snead joined at expansion in September.

Jason Phillips made the 2003 opening roster thanks to Mike Piazza's suspension and soon after took over at first base following Mo Vaughn's career-ending injuries. He promptly whacked 11 home runs, hit 25 doubles and went .298/.373/.442 overall. His 2004 season was a full-blown disaster and he was dealt to Los Angeles for lefty Kazuhisa Ishii, who similarly exasperated his former employers and takes on a rebound challenge in 2005.

So, no honors for Mets wearing this number.

rukrusher said...

Mike Skinner Nascar #23?

I am not a fan, just trying to look outside the box, this websight, has the whole history of the car. I have no idea if Kenny Wallace or Dave Blaney are better #23.

Brian in Oxford said...

Dare I go into the, Jordan wasn't even the best athlete in his own sport, let alone all professional sports? Nor did he even stick with 23 his whole career!


okay, I'll give that he was better than Frank Ramsey.

Anton said...

First off...Hester is 21. But he's still awesome.

Most have all been said. 23 actually isn't a big number in other sports. Jordan made it. However, baseball: Kirk Gibson

Precourt said...

Brian in oxford, either you are saying that jordan isn't the "best athlete" by some technicality like Oscar Robertson or Dr. J was a better "athlete" in the true sense of the word or you are insane.

Jordan is by far the greatest basketball player ever. He's the reason the game is being played the way it is. He absolutely revolutionized the game. He was above the sport.

Ruth, Gretzky, and Pele are the only ones with legitimate arguments. I'd argue until my face turned blue for Jordan over Gretzky and Pele, but if you wanted to make an argument about Ruth, I'd accept it. My personal pick is Jordan over Ruth because I got to witness it first hand thousands of times.

hacker said...

For the NHL, Bob Gainey (23 for the Habs) would be my pick.

JB* said...

For NASCAR, a better source would be from - complete history, not just back to 2000 like Jayski.

Jimmy Spencer is the only one to do an extended run in the car - five seasons, with two finishes in the top 20 - so he may be, by default, the best.

Only one guy (Frank Mundy) has won, though, in it - in 1951. In a Studebaker of all things.

Brian in Oxford said...

I'll even offer up Magic, mat....

Magic was a better dribbler, passer, rebounder, and floor leader than Jordan. Jordan gets a slight edge in shooting (Magic got much better as his career went on, but had a bigger curve to catch up to) and played better defense.

Here's a big difference between Jordan and Johnson. When Michael Jordan made a great play, Michael Jordan scored the hoop. When Magic made a great play, maybe he scored the points, or maybe it was Worthy, or AC, or Kareem, or even Rambis. Anyone could have gotten the points off one of Magic's great plays.